Commonwealth Day 2019

Each year, on the second Monday of March, nations around the world mark the contribution of one of the world’s most successful global networks. In an era when conflict is more likely to make headlines, the quiet existence of a community of nations supporting shared ideals is a rare source of celebration.

The Commonwealth has its origins in the break-up of the British Empire, when the removal of colonial ties was replaced by voluntary association. This year marks the 70th anniversary of the organisation. Of its 53 members, more than half (including Seychelles) are small states and many of these are island nations.

A different theme for its work is chosen each year, with the one for 2019 being ‘A Connected Commonwealth’. The theme is recognition of the enduring practical value and global engagement that has been made possible through this unique community of nations.

Connection takes various forms, but all with common goals:

  • to protect our natural environment and the ocean which we share and that connects many of our nations shore to shore;
  • to cooperate on trade to encourage inclusive economic empowerment for all people – particularly women and youth and marginalised communities; and
  • to take part in friendly sporting rivalry and encourage young people to participate in sport for development and peace. 

The James R. Mancham Peace and Diplomacy Research Institute at the University of Seychelles (UniSey) has good reason to acknowledge the good work of the Commonwealth and its longstanding dedication to the cause of peace. The Institute is especially interested in the Commonwealth Universities’ Peace and Reconciliation Network. Countries with a colonial background confront a range of issues in this area, including the legacy of settler colonialism, post-conflict situations and unresolved civil tensions. 

Through the National Assembly, Seychelles is currently undertaking its own peace and reconciliation exercise and the Institute is keen to monitor progress and to help in disseminating the findings. UniSey will be just one of an international network of universities doing the same, another example of this year’s theme of ‘A Connected Commonwealth’.